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RS400 Northern Championship 2024 at Tynemouth Sailing Club sponsored by Rooster and Trident UK

by Alex Oyston 4 Jun 15:07 BST 1-2 June 2024

Sixteen boats competed in hopes of being crowned Northern Champions for 2024 as the RS400 Rooster National Tour and the Trident UK Northern Tour combined over the weekend of 1st & 2nd June.

Sunshine was delivered as 8 visiting boats arrived to Tynemouth SC, along with big northerly winds (some 18knot gusts) and waves for the Saturday morning. Following confirmation from Race office that the conditions in the south bay were calm enough for competitive racing, the fleet headed out on an exciting kite run down to the race course.

The course was set and start sequence commenced set for a scheduled 2pm first race with three laps on the agenda. However much of the fleet were too keen to get the race under way, and with the tides assistance, a general recall was signalled. False start.

The fleet regrouped and on second attempt, they were under way. Wind assisted swell meant the outgoing tide was near cancelled, making the first beat a close encounter of positions being changed. Dave Exley & Alastair Coates were first to the windward mark, shortly followed by Nathan & Sarah Batchelor, Stewart and Sarah Robertson hot on their heels. The front three headed downwind on starboard gybe. Hamiish Gledhill & Ross Southwell the fourth boat to round, gybe set in pursuit of more wind and to close the gap. The rest of the fleet not far behind began their downwind leg and an even split was made for boats heading to the left and right side of the course.

Much like the windward mark, the front three rounded the leeward mark in the same order. Exley and Coates headed up on port tack, while the Batchelor's tacked onto starboard and sailed towards the beach on the left side of the course, hoping for a tidal lee-bow.

Exley & Coates held onto the lead and finished in first place, with the Robertsons 2nd best, followed by the Batchelors. Gledhill and Southwell headed up the rest.

A slightly right shifted breeze meant race office moved the windward mark, and brought the race distance in a little with the forecasted dying breeze was beginning to show.

A prompt turn-around and onto race 2.

This time the fleet were evidently conscious of the tidal flow and all held back for a clear start and away they went for another 3 lap thriller.

This time the Robertsons lead the fleet around the windward mark, with Philip Murray and Matthew Murray in hot pursuit. Behind them there were battles going on throughout the fleet. 3rd place was being fought over between Batchelor, Oyston, Exley and Gledhill, while the mid fleet positions were being tussled between Andy Brown, Toby Waggett & Charlie Exley with changes in standings every tack. Oyston was caught off-guard as he sat on a starboard lift for way too long, not realising he was 30 boat-lengths past the lay line, and that was him out of the first 5.

Downwind was all about who could get their boat to surf along in the swell, as the planing breeze had began to disappear.

The second race concluded with the front two retaining their positions, followed by Exley, Batchelor and Gledhill. Again the second race saw more of a right shifting breeze which RO had spotted and repositioned the windward mark as the last few boats were heading towards the finish.

Another lightening quick turn around and race 3 was under way.

This time the Murrays set out to lead, and began to motor on. Matthew's lightweight crewing meant that they could put some distance between them and the rest down the first run and retained the distance throughout the three laps. A new boat to the front 5 (Matt & David Jenkins) were best of the rest while Gledhill took third.

The final lap saw the breeze drop to around 7kts, which made the long 1.3mile beat back to the piers a little tedious, however the thought of refreshing beer kept the fleet enthusiastic.

All 16 ashore, some a little more sunburned than others, Tynemouth galley had prepared a hearty chilli, rice & garlic bread to refuel all following a great day on the water. Beer was flowing as the sailors recounted their version of the days events.

Overnight the top step was shared, The Robertson's & the Murray's each with a 1st, 2nd & 5th. Dave & Alistair in third.

Sunday delivered another glorious morning of sunshine. This time the sea a little calmer and a lot less wind (6kts forecast). The fleet less enthusiastic for a drifter as they looked out onto the near millpond through the piers, but Howard Steavenson and his race team radioed over to let the sailors know they'd found a pocket of wind in the south bay, and were keen to get racing under way.

Another run out the starting area, in much less speed than Saturday, the fleet reconvened for the 4th race, with 2 more to follow.

Another well set-up course, and with 5 knots registered (for at least a minute) the RS400 class flag was displayed, as they entered the 5 minute sequence.

Race 1 at 11am saw an incoming tide for the entirety, meaning getting over the line was more difficult than the previous day.

A very light, and shifty race saw manage positions swap up the first beat, before Exley and Coates came out on top. The lightweight team of Brown & Sutcliffe had engines on full-throttle as they chased down the leaders. The racing was close all the way around, as the three laps completed. Exley managed to hold-off Brown's lunge down the final leg, to come away with the win. Brown in second with the Robertson's third.

Race 2 saw a little more wind as the sea-breeze started to build, it was promising signs for the fleet.

Oyston and Waggett a little eager as both boats were called back for being over the line.

First beat saw a slight starboard bias, much to the delight of Brown & Sutcliffe, as they were able to lead the boats around the windward mark, with Exley 2nd. Gledhill behind holding off Murray, Oyston and Batchelor. The front half of the fleet retained positions until the final lap, where Exley managed to squeeze past Brown, the rest of the top five remaining the same.

There was a good battle occurring between Charlie Exley and Toby Waggett, with a protest being called for room at the windward mark. The battle continued until the finish, and with Waggett ahead on the water, it was up to the jury to decide the fate of the race result for the two boats, ashore.

The rest of the fleet finishing not too far behind, and a further shift south east with the sea breeze meant the windward mark relayed before the final race could begin.

The northern summer in full swing meant the breeze was a plenty, as the third race started in 12 knots. Much to the crews delight, they could stretch their legs and sit on the side.

With some boats heading for an early bath, only 10 started. Exley & Coates were back to their front-running from the off, as they lead the fleet up the first beat, and held that lead for the entire race. Gledhill and Southwell assumed second place, with Brown and Sutcliffe in third. This remained the order until the final downwind leg. Brown & Sutcliffe were forced to retire as their rudder became detached from their boat during a gybe. This opened the door for third place for Charlie & Caroline Exley, with Oyston rounding in fourth.

The final finishing hooter was sounded. Exley in first place, Gledhill second followed by Exley junior in third. Murray was able to ride a few waves to pip Oyston for 4th.

Exley & Coates sailed a consistent championships and were convincing overall winners. Murray and Murray junior pipped Gledhill and Southwell to second having carded a win in race 3.

At the prize-giving, there was a draw for Trident UK Vouchers after which Dave thanked Tynemouth SC for great race management, welcoming social and good feed.

As the Northern Champs is on the National Tour the Rooster sponsored prizes of caps were awarded to:
Dave Exley & Alistair Coates - 1st overall
Charlie Exley & Caroline Exley - Mid-fleet
Richard Fahey & Jamie Ellis - Endeavour

TridentUK Vouchers were presented to:
£20 Rob Holmes & John Pitkethly
£15 Charlie & Caroline Exley
£10 Richard Fahey & Jamie Ellis

Nest stop on the TridentUK RS400 Northern Tour is Carsington, 15/16 June - online entry is now open, early entry deadline this Friday, 7th June.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st1460Dave ExleyAlistaire CoatesLeigh & Lowton SC13‑41117
2nd1398Philip MurrayMatthew MurrayTynemouth SC‑52154416
3rd1511Hamish GledhillRoss SouthwellWest Riding SC4‑5343216
4th1463Stewart RobertsonSarah RobertsonRoyal Forth YC2153(DNF)DNS22
5th1032Andy BrownAlex SutcliffeTynemouth SC76922(DNF)26
6th1437Nathan BatchelorSarah BatchelorTynemouth SC34766(DNS)26
7th1456Alex OystonCatherine HideTynemouth SC688‑95532
8th1461Charlie ExleyCaroline ExleyLeigh & Lowton SC‑1010687334
9th956Toby WaggettDavid ShillingDerwent SC87107(SCP)638
10th1427Carl WhiteheadBen WhiteheadYorkshire Dales SC99‑111010DNS49
11th614Phil CowansRosie KincaidTynemouth SC1112‑13129852
12th1209Rob HolmesJohn PitkethlyTynemouth SC13‑1414118753
13th1072Matt JenkinsDavid JenkinsSheffield Viking SC12112(DNC)DNCDNC59
14th572James BrownAdam OvingtonTynemouth SC‑14131213DNSDNS63
15th810Richard FaheyJamie EllisTynemouth SC‑1515151411964
16th517Max BurrowsAmy BurrowsRutland SC1616DNF(DNC)DNCDNC82

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